Noninvasive Imaging and Quantification of Radiotherapy-Induced PD-L1 Upregulation with 89 Zr-Df-Atezolizumab

Emily B Ehlerding, Hye Jin Lee, Todd E Barnhart, Dawei Jiang, Lei Kang, Douglas G McNeel, Jonathan W Engle, Weibo Cai
Bioconjugate Chemistry 2019 April 19
Immune checkpoint expression is highly dynamic, and combination treatments including radiotherapy can particularly modulate this expression. PET imaging using 89 Zr-Df-atezolizumab can provide insight into the levels of PD-L1 variation following radiotherapy treatments. In vitro screening was used to monitor PD-L1 expression by lung cancer cells following radiotherapy. Mice bearing PD-L1+ (H460) or PD-L1- (A549) tumors were subjected to various external beam radiotherapy regimens and then imaged using 89 Zr-Df-atezolizumab PET. ROI analysis and ex vivo biodistribution studies were employed to quantify tracer accumulations. H460 cells were found to have PD-L1 expression at baseline, and this expression increased following daily radiotherapy of 5 fractions of 2 Gy. PD-L1 expression could not be induced on A549 cells, regardless of radiotherapy regimen. The increase in PD-L1 expression in H460 tumors following fractionated radiotherapy could be imaged in vivo using 89 Zr-Df-atezolizumab, with statistically significant higher tracer accumulation noted in fractionated H460 tumors over that in all other H460 or A549 groups after 72 h postinjection of the tracer. Significant accumulation of the tracer was also noted in other PD-L1+ organs, including the spleen and lymph nodes. Ex vivo staining of tumor tissues verified that tumor cells as well as tumor-infiltrating immune cells were responsible for increased PD-L1 expression after radiotherapy in tumor tissues. Overall, PD-L1 expression can be modulated with radiotherapy interventions, and 89 Zr-Df-atezolizumab is able to noninvasively monitor these changes in preclinical models.

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